Rob Portman Shows Why Political Pandering Has Become A Dangerous Game

SIMI VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Republican presidential candidates, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Carson, Donald Trump and
SIMI VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidates, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush take part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on September 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, California. Fifteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the second set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Once upon a time, promising to support whoever won your party's presidential nomination seemed like a harmless exercise in party loyalty for senators, governors and other high-ranking Democrats and Republicans. But that was when people manifestly unfit to hold the job rarely rose to the status of frontrunner in either major party.

Those days are gone. Today, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading the Republican field. Together, they are capturing nearly half of the GOP primary vote. And as they demonstrate on a daily basis, neither is qualified to be President.

Yet just a few days ago, Ohio Senator Rob Portman said he would support any GOP candidate, including Trump, who wins the party nomination -- something which my U.S. Senate campaign first called him on a week ago today.

In the mere seven days that have elapsed since then, the full folly of Portman's pledge has come into bold relief.

Last Thursday, at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Trump not only refused to contradict a supporter who claimed President Obama "is a Muslim and not even an American," but appeared to endorse that view himself.

That Trump would once again descend into the muck of "birtherism" and dark conspiracy theories is hardly surprising. It's been his stock in trade since at least 2011. Incredibly, the Republican front-runner cannot bring himself -- even now -- to admit that the President of the United States is an American citizen.

And the man whom Sen. Portman says he would endorse to be commander-in-chief unapologetically continues his assault on civility, while polluting the nation's political discourse with such vulgarisms as "I've said if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her" and "You know, it really doesn't matter what the media write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of a**."

Meanwhile, the GOP candidate with the second highest level of poll support -- retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson -- has been busy telling a national television office why he believes religious bigotry is consistent with the Constitution he so vociferously claims to support. On Meet the Press Sunday, Carson was blissfully unaware that religious tests for public office are expressly forbidden by Article VI of the Constitution he would, if elected, swear to protect and defend.

How long will it take Sen. Portman to admit he made a mistake?

How long will it take him to renounce and rescind his pledge to endorse whoever wins his party's presidential nomination?

Or has our politics now sunk to such depths that even self-proclaimed "moderates" like Rob Portman are willing to put party loyalty above constitutional principles and partisan interests above the national interest?

Sadly, the answer appears to be yes. Which is just one more reason why Washington is broken; one more reason why Rob Portman doesn't deserve re-election; and one more reason why I'm running to replace him in the U.S. Senate.